Friday, June 27, 2014

Coconut Lime Cake with Raspberries & Cream

It's been a while since I've baked with coconut.  It's one of those ingredients that people seem to either love or hate.  But coconut oil and coconut water have really gained in favor over the last year so perhaps all is forgiven.

I love to work with raspberries so as I set out to work on a coconut pastry, I came up with this cake as a way to use my fresh stash.  I think they make a good tart foil for the sweetness of coconut.  I'm super pleased with the results.

This cake starts with my basic white cake recipe but I swap out the milk for coconut milk.  I also add a touch of lime to the batter to brighten up the flavor just a bit.  Once the cake is baked, it's split and filled with sugared raspberries and whipped cream.  Then the whole thing is slathered with more whipped cream.  While I've made my share of buttercreams and frostings, I favor whipped cream as a finishing because it's easy, light, fresh and really just tastes the best.

This is a subtle and delicious dessert.  If you love coconut and raspberries, this combination will definitely provide a plate of pleasure.

Bench notes:
- Cake flour produces a lighter and more tender cake.  I buy it at my local bulk grocer at a reasonable price but you can also make your own.  The basic formula is: 1 cup of cake flour = 1 cup of all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons cornstarch.  For the 1 1/2 cups of cake flour in this recipe, measure 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and remove 3 tablespoons.  Add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and sift a couple of times to be sure it's completely blended.
- I use Thai Kitchen coconut milk because the quality is very consistent.
- This technique for mixing cake batter is called the "two-stage" method.  It's very different from the creaming method because all the dry ingredients are mixed first with room temperature butter and half of the milk.  This is beaten for 1 1/2 minutes and then the egg whites, lime juice, vanilla and remaining milk are added in three stages and mixed for 20 seconds after each addition.  The creaming method results in more aeration of ingredients and therefore cakes made that way usually have a stronger structure and turn out with a higher rise.  This two-stage method results in less gluten development and produces a more tender cake with a delicate crumb, exactly what we're looking for in a white cake.
- Use a very sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut the cake into two layers.  Start by making a small 1" cut into the side of the cake all the way around.  Then bring your knife around again, sawing a little deeper.  The cake will be cut in half very quickly.  If you try to cut it straight across in one fell swoop, you'll wind up with a lot more crumbs.  Once the cake is cut, I use a removable tart pan bottom to lift off the top half layer and set it aside.
- I don't recommend baking the cake in a 9" cake pan because the layers will be too thin and fragile.  You can double the recipe and bake in two 9" cake pans for a taller cake.  The 9" cakes will bake a bit faster.  Start checking them after about 25 - 28 minutes.  You'll also need more whipped cream and a few more raspberries.

Coconut Lime Cake with Raspberries & Cream
Serves 8

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (6 1/4 oz) sugar
zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 oz (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup (4 oz) coconut milk, divided
3 large (3 oz) egg whites @ room temperature
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 3/4 oz) sweetened shredded coconut

12 oz fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons (26 grams) sugar

1 cup (8 oz) cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease an 8" x 2 1/2" cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.

Place sugar and zest of 1 lime in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the sugar is damp with the aromatic oil of the zest.  Combine the zested sugar with the cake flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of your mixer.  Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend thoroughly.  Add the room temperature butter and 1/4 cup coconut milk.  Mix on low speed until moistened.  Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1 /2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Combine egg whites, remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk, juice of 1 lime and vanilla.  Gradually add the liquid mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Remove from the mixer and fold in the shredded coconut.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean with just a couple of crumbs attached, 34 - 36 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Run a thin knife around the edges to loosen and invert the cake.  Carefully remove the parchment and invert again to cool completely.

To assemble, place the raspberries in a bowl (reserve a few if you want to garnish the finished cake) and toss with 2 tablespoons sugar.  Set aside for a few minutes to macerate.

Whip the cold heavy cream with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until medium soft peaks form.

Using a long sharp serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally and set the top aside.  Spread the bottom half with the raspberries and their juices to within 1/2" of the border.  Top with about 1/3 - 1/2 cup whipped cream.  Place the top half of the cake on top of the berries and cream.  Slather the cake in the remaining whipped cream.  Garnish with extra berries.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for another excellent recipe. My partner asked if this could be our wedding cake ... we're not planning the big day yet, but this cake would be just our style!


pastry studio said...

Ooohh, Alex, that makes me so happy. It's a simple and delicious cake. I hope you enjoy every bite.


Kate said...

Picture perfect. I love your atypical sense of style. Also, lime in the cake too... that's exciting! Wish I had a slice for the morning cuppa joe. I am not a cake fan, but the raspberries, coconut and cream make me rethink that snobby view!

pastry studio said...

Kate, thank you for your feedback. You're a gem! I think if you had a taste of this cake, you might re-think the whole cake thing. It's pretty good!

Bryan said...

I grew up in the Midwest with day-old Dolly Madison coconut-raspberry Zingers from the local bakery outlet.
Zingers were a mutant variation of cream-filled snack cakes-- not quite a Twinkie.
It was the best flavor, but no one seemed to like the raspberry-coconut except me.
This cake is a great interpretation of that sense memory.

And then... this method of making the batter was so different from what I'm used to.
I'll need to make this cake at least a couple more times (really, third time's the charm) to really get the hang of it.
Thanks for a great challenge!

pastry studio said...

Hi Bryan! I think I remember something like those coconut raspberry Zingers, too.

Yeah, for some reason, this method also took me some getting used to. After years of the creaming method, it seems so counterintuitive. But once you get the hang of it, it's a snap. I promise! I think you'd love this cake, it's tender and flavorful.


Marika Zoe said...

Hi! Thanks for this recipe. I'm thinking of making this for a friend's birthday party - how long do you think whipped cream frosting will hold up after frosting it/without refrigeration?
It looks absolutely perfect for the occasion and I'm excited to try the new technique.

pastry studio said...

Howdy, Marika! Whipped cream frosting can usually stand up for about an hour or two without refrigeration but it really depends on the conditions, i.e., if it's in a cool environment. Once you frost the cake it should also be well-chilled the same day you plan to serve it before setting it out. Substitute powdered sugar for the granulated for added strength since it contains cornstarch.

There are some methods for stabilizing whipped cream (like adding gelatin) so it will hold for longer periods of time but I haven't tried them. If you google that you should be able to find one if you want the cake to hold for a longer period of time.

Another recommendation I think would work well is adding creme fraiche or sour cream. You'd have to adjust the sugar but it would help thicken it. See Nancy Silverton's recipe:

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

I hope you and your friends enjoy the cake!

Marika Zoe said...

Thanks so much for your speedy response! I was also considering the crème fraiche route! :-)